Looking for a way onto the eating right train? The answer could be right around the corner at your local farmer’s market.

peppers

There’s a lot of great food harvested right at our doorstep. There’s orchards and farms all across the nation. Enterprising gardeners will create a mini-farm on a city roof, or a small plot of land. The best thing about farming is eating what’s harvested. If you don’t garden or  farm, the next best thing is to visit your neighborhood farmer’s market and pick up luscious fruits and glowing vegetables.

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grapes

This past holiday weekend, I rented a car and wound my way up the HudsonValley. I stopped at a farmer’s market in Peekskill and was stunned by the amazing colors of the fruits and vegetables on display. Some peaches were almost the size of my head. Their fragrance haunted the air and they tasted so sweet.

eggplant

I saw deceptively quiet looking jalapenos, peppers in fiery oranges and reds, Eggplants of all varieties too. There were a few red potatoes that could have easily doubled as soccer balls.

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baked madeleines

In addition to all the fruit and veg, I tasted some fabulous pastries from 3 Petites Madeleines, a bakery from Beacon, New York.  Fresh homemade cheese—yummy!  There was honey candy and so much more. If I could have, I would have eaten my way through the farmer’s market.

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The one thing I noticed is that prices and the quality of, well, everything was so much better than the supermarket. If you want to eat healthy, save money and have fun shopping, make time to visit your local farmer’s market. Everything changes with the season and that’s the fun of it. You’ll discover new, tasty fruits and veg. You might even make a new friend or two. What to do with all that bounty? Here’s a couple of recipes from The Food Network.

Eggplant, Tomato and Feta Cheese Napoleons
Courtesy of Chef Emeril Lagasse, TheFood Network
Ingredients:
1 pound eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices to equal 12 slices
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil leaves
3 large tomatoes, stems removed, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, to equal 12 slices
Pesto Oil, recipe follows
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Toss the eggplant with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to coat. Place on a baking sheet in 1 layer and bake for 15 minutes, turning once. Cool on the sheet pan.
In a small bowl combine the cheese, basil, and remaining tablespoon olive oil.
Place 1 eggplant slice on a salad plate. Top with 1 tablespoon of the cheese, then 1 slice of tomato. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of pesto oil over the tomato, then another tablespoon of cheese. Top with another eggplant slice, and continue assembling, with 3 eggplant slices per napoleon, and ending with a cheese layer on top drizzled with pesto oil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature.
Pesto Oil:
Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Directions:
In the bowl of a food processor or blender place the garlic and basil and process on high while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue to process until well-blended, season with salt to taste.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

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Beet and Apple Salad
Recipe courtesy of The Food Network
Ingredients:
2 apples
4 celery stalks
1 shallot
1 lemon
1 beet
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoon chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Toss 2 thinly sliced apples, 4 thinly sliced celery stalks (with leaves) and 1 minced shallot in a bowl with the juice of 1 lemon. Peel 1 beet, then slice into matchsticks and add to the bowl. Toss in 1 teaspoon sugar, 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes, and then serve on a bed of sliced endive.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Barefoot Contessa, courtesy of The Food Network
Ingredients:
3 pounds small red or white potatoes
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan and spread out into 1 layer. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking in order to ensure even browning.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, toss with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

PJ Gach is Managing Editor Spa Week Daily.
All photos by PJ Gach.

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